Check your Perspective, Change your Attitude

Ever since my injury, I’ve been lamenting the fact that I can’t roll out of bed and out the door to run anymore. I talk about the necessity of my new warm up routine due to being “old” or “broken” or some other negative framing.

Then I ran across this tweet from Molly Huddle – replying to another professional runner Matt Llano.

And I realized what makes perfect, logical sense when you take away the self-imposed negative framing: warming up is good for you, and people do it for that reason. It’s not punishment for getting older or being injured. It just furthers the reward of running. Making sure your ankles are mobilized and your glutes are activated means you glide into your first few steps instead of an awkwardly jolt while waiting for the pain to warm out.

Changing my attitude from angst to pride – pride in doing the right thing for my body, the smart thing that other athletes do – has already made a difference. And even if that’s some sort of placebo – I’ll take it.


Getting back on the track

Today I ran on a track for the first time in 7 months. It felt…good? difficult? almost fast? tiring? exciting? disappointing?

There are a lot of unknowns in injury, and they don’t go away as you make your way back. There is no secret formula that says you’ll get back in shape without hurting yourself if you run this far at this speed but will hurt yourself again if you run further and/or faster than that. You try to balance your overprotective mom brain (“be careful, sweetie!”) with your over competitive athlete brain (“suck it up, wuss!”) and end with feeling…confused.

Was what I just ran impressive? Should I be proud of myself? Or should I have pushed harder, ran longer, and finished faster? Do I even have the fitness to do that right now?

I have been a planner my entire life, and the last 7 months have turned me into someone who tries not to think more than a couple of days in advance. The way to stay sane is to not get attached to the plan. Then there’s nothing to be sad about when the plan changes.

I’m not sure if I’m “back” or still a ways out from that. I’m not sure if I’ll start working out on the track again every week or every other week or what. But I’m trying to savor the positives of this morning. Like the cadence of running into the curve of a 200, the familiar sound the wind makes as you cut through the air at a new speed, and the sight of sweat flinging off your body as you pump your arms.

Yeah…that stuff is pretty good.


Things I Miss

8-mile Mondays

Track Tuesdays

Morning crew Wednesdays

Strength double Thursdays

Recovery Fridays

Long Run Saturdays

Weight sessions Sundays

The nervousness of racing

A finishing kick

The track

Settling into the clip of a tempo run

Sweating so much during a long run that you can wring out your socks

Summer afternoon doubles

The tingly, satisfied tired after some heavy squats and deadlifts

Calculating lap splits ahead of a workout

Stressing about a workout

Waking up anxious for a workout

Finishing fast in a workout

Writing out post-workout splits

Writing a novel for a log entry

Exploring trails because it doesn’t matter if you get lost – you’ve got a lot of miles to run

The smell of a rubber track on a hot and humid morning

Lacing up flats

“One more ’til one more”

Pushing through another interval when your legs are already shaking

Lactic acid

Being tired

Sleeping like a rock

Planning races/training months in advance

Thinking about a marathon

Talking about running

Talking about racing

Meeting other people to run

Doing workouts

Being in shape

Feeling committed

Eating a giant bowl of ice cream on Saturday night

Splitting my watch

Adding up miles

Running without thinking


Pinning a number on a singlet

…just to name a few

And if you made it this far, read this: What Happens When We Take a Break from Running?

Halfway through 2018

I’ve started this post many times and abandoned it out of frustration. But now it’s been far too long since I posted anything and something about the looming date of July 1st and the second half of 2018 has me ready to ship this thing.

2018 has not gone as planned to put it mildly. To get an accurate picture of why it’s been so hard, I have to back up to 2017.

2017 was da bomb. I accomplished almost everything I set my mind to. I started the year coming back from a slight hamstring/adductor injury and busted out a giant 10k PR in March, squeezing under my goal time of 39:30 by a little over 5 seconds.

Then I headed into track season and eked out an 800 meter PR without specifically training for it. I had a solid summer and ran a 5k in August that indicated I could actually meet my lifetime goal for the 5k in Macon next month.

Breaking 18 minutes for 5k has been my goal since 2008. It’s always been something that I mostly considered just out of my reach but would be really freaking cool if I accomplished. It wasn’t unrealistic, like trying to go to the Olympics, but it wasn’t so easy that I did it in college which is when I was in arguably the best shape of my life.

The Macon Labor Day 5k is a screaming fast 5k course, and I’ve been known to run the first mile of that course faster than a flat out mile on the track. It’s a certified 5k distance, but it’s much faster than any other courses, especially in hilly Atlanta. I know that running a sub-18 at Macon doesn’t make me a consistent sub-18 runner elsewhere, but I just want to cover the distance in under that amount of time.

Between my August race and Labor Day, training went full bore, and I was attempting some of the hardest workouts of my running career. I say attempting because I often fell off the assigned paces, but I was doing so with the full confidence that I was close and could get there.

Labor Day rolled around and I ran 18:01.93. Even though I missed my lifetime goal by less than 2 seconds, I was ECSTATIC with the PR. I haven’t had much of a breakthrough since college, and I was ready to celebrate my success rather than mourn the fact that I didn’t accomplish my goal.

Given the extremely fast nature of the course, I set my eyes on September of 2018 for my next realistic attempt at sub-18. I finished out my fall racing season despite the hamstring/adductor issues cropping up again, and then took some time off around the holidays to try to get that under control.

Ok now finally back to this year

2018 began with planning and goal setting for the year. I wanted to essentially repeat 2017, only do everything faster. I’ve learned to be more selective with races and wanted to pare it down even more for 2018. I even started researching a late fall marathon for after my Labor Day focus!

Hamstring/adductor issues continued. I diagnosed myself with high hamstring tendinopathy and started doing bridges every day. This gave me some relief, but honestly it became “normal” for my upper hamstrings to hurt when I run…or when I sit too long…especially in the car.

February 2018

At the end of the month I noticed my left knee was also hurting as I started to run. This plus both hamstrings made for some awkward, jolty steps to begin with before getting into a normal rhythm. I iced it and would foam roll/use the lacrosse ball on my lower quads, right above my knee cap, and kept on with my training. And my lifting! I was doing squats and grimacing through them because “no pain, no gain” right?

March 2018

Ok so both of my knees hurt now? And still having hamstring/adductor issues. At least my knees hurt differently. My left knee is swollen and hurts in a vertical pattern and is EXTREMELY painful with hyperextension, and my right knee feels like pretty normal patellar tendonitis, probably from overcompensating for my left knee.

It’s a weird pattern because there will be days when I finish running and feel fine and days where 30 minutes after I’m done, it feels like my knee is going to fall off.

I take it really easy the week of my 10k, wear KT tape, and run the race…about 75 seconds slower than last year. Feeling like you need to limp after a race is NOT worth it to run that slow, so I take some down time and go see a physical therapist at the end of the  month.

Side note: I think physical therapists are the best and have only had really positive experiences with them. If you’ve ever had a bad experience at a doctor’s office (like 90% of the time when I go), imagine your ideal situation of someone listening to you and forming a long term plan of action for healing, and that is physical therapy.

April 2018

I’m in PT twice a week getting dry needled and doing exercises with the blood flow restriction cuff (BFR). I now have an elaborate warm up routine to do before I run every morning, and I’m restricted to 4-5 miles at a time as we try to get everything calmed down.

Near the end of the month, the PTs evaluate my running form again by filming me on the treadmill and suggest I try to lean forward just a bit and/or engage my lower core. I run very upright and heel strike, and apparently this prevents the glutes from firing at all, meaning my hamstrings and adductors have to work overtime and get irritated.

I tried my new running form a couple of days later and found out that leaning forward makes me go super fast which was pretty fun! I also started having 90% pain free runs (for hamstrings/adductors) and could sit in the car without squirming around. It was like magic! Engage your glutes, and the rest of your muscles are happy. Got it.

Side note: leaning forward while running also led to me taking a tumble and skinning my right knee which was almost funny but mostly annoying. 😉

May 2018

For the first half of the month, I’m on cloud 9. I graduate to only 1 PT appointment each week, and I’m cleared to increase my mileage a little bit. The swelling in my left knee and pain with hyperextension has never improved, but it doesn’t actively hurt while I run, so I focus on the positives like that I drove over an hour in the car and didn’t want to scream about my hamstrings when I got out.

I also incorporated a little speed back into my life. Strides had been a major point of pain with my hamstrings/adductors, and now I could do them without that wrenching, resistance to changing speed. I even did “long” runs of 8 and 9 miles!

And then I relapsed. That’s what I’m calling it at least. While my knee had never seen much improvement, I went from pain free hamstring/adductors back to how I felt in March before I even started PT. Running with my leaned over form, working my glutes with rehab exercises, nothing helped. I would get a slight relief from dry needling at PT every week, but I was back to laying on my stomach instead of sitting and wincing through my jolted first steps of a run.

I was incredibly frustrated. Renewed pain plus the fact that my knee was still a little puff ball led me to make an appointment with a sports medicine doctor.

June 2018

At the doctor’s office I had X-rays which were normal and performed some tests for the doctor. The he had me lay on the exam table and felt both of my knees. He had the great quote, “Your right knee clicks a little bit, but the left one just grinds!”

He recommended an MRI since I had swelling for so long and had already been in PT for 8-10 weeks.

Luckily with all of the PT I’ve done, I already hit my deductible for the year, so the MRI was cheap. I got in 2 days later and then had to wait until the following Monday for him to give me the results (because MRI techs can’t tell you anything).

The results were:

These findings are consistent with a partial tear of the origin of the patellar tendon. This is most pronounced on the medial aspect. Edema is seen in the adjacent superior aspect of Hoffa’s infrapatellar fat pad.

I was convinced I had fat pad impingement, so I was happy to hear I was partially right. But not actually happy because that sucks! He said if I didn’t have a traumatic moment of knowing I tore my tendon, it could also be tendinosis, which reads very similar on an MRI.

I was highly irritated at the results being “tendinosis” because I thought it was just a fancy word for tendonitis which is (in my mind) not serious at all. But after some Googling and calming down, I learned that tendinosis is the advanced stage of tendonitis, where there isn’t an inflammatory response anymore, and you’re actually doing damage (that is my unscientific take).

The recommended treatment is the same whether it’s a partial tear or tendinosis – an injection. I had the choice between Amniofix and PRP, 2 types of regenerative medicines.


Amniofix had a full recovery time of 4-6 weeks with a warning that the 2-3 days following the injection are “extremely painful.” Like, prescription pain meds painful. It comes from donated placentas, and the growth factors get to work inside your body to repair your tendon.


Platelet rich plasma had a full recovery time of 6-12 weeks and an easy immediate recovery from the injection. They draw blood from your arm, spin it down to separate the plasma, and then inject that for the growth factors to work on repairing your tendon.


I went with the Amniofix. I loved the idea of my body working to repair itself from my own plasma, but I thought the “extreme pain” was probably overhyped and wanted that faster recovery time.

I got my injection later that week.

They start my using an ultrasound to look at your tendon. He showed me the part of my patellar tendon that was thickened due to the injury, which I pretended to see because it looked exactly the same as the undamaged side to me. Then they spray your knee with cold spray and you get some numbing injections.

The numbing injections were pretty uncomfortable. The needle going in wasn’t so bad, but moving around to inject in all the areas for the Amniofix injection wasn’t great. But the good thing is that it starts to work quickly, and I didn’t feel the second needle with the Amniofix at all.

I was really achy and swollen for the rest of the day. They said I’d stay numb for 2-3 hours, but I had a deep ache in my knee by the time I was driving home. And I definitely laid on the couch for the rest of the day, only hobbling out to Publix to get my pain meds.

I took a pain pill before going to sleep and expected to wake up in “extreme pain” the next morning. To my pleasant surprise, I was FINE. I still had a lot of swelling (that’s what happens when you get needles jabbed in you), but the pain I felt pre-injection and yesterday was gone. The swelling only got better over the next few days as well.

The injection came with 10 days of no running. I thought this was a small price to pay for a hopeful quick recovery of my knee, so I went for walks, I cut the grass, I swam, etc. I kept myself busy and looked forward to Monday the 25th when I could run again. I planned to start with some run-walk to be careful.

Monday morning I did my pre-run routine and headed to the river for some soft surface running. Much to my absolute horror, my hamstring/adductors felt just as bad (worse actually) as before my 10 days off. 10 DAYS! I haven’t take that much time consecutively off in who knows how long. And to not feel any improvement at all???

My knee feels fine, by the way.

I’ve joked with some people who ask how I’m doing that “I’m fine! I just have a breakdown every 3 weeks or so.” My latest was on Tuesday, so hopefully I’m good for a bit.

After another attempt at running going slightly better than the day before but still bad, I’m taking a longer break. I love running, but it currently is only hating me, specifically my hamstrings/adductors, so we need some time apart.

I’m still going to run-walk Peachtree next week. My PT agreed that it’s not going to set me back and the mental/emotional toll of not being there could be worse than the physical toll, so I’m looking forward to trying again then and maybe seeing some slight improvement after another week.


The most frustrating part of my “relapse” is the lack of a clear answer. Everything made sense for a while:

Exercise the quads, knees feel better
Exercise the glutes, hamstrings feel better
Change your running form, everything feels better

And it’s an oversimplification that I just got back into running too fast. If that were the case, I would see improvement with the time off that I took.

I have a new theory, and since clinging to an answer seems to help my emotional state, I’m sticking with it.

Part of PT has been working on my thoracic spine mobility and my cross-body stabilization. I’ll never forget my appointment where I did an exercise of pulling across my body that I could only do on one side. When I switched directions, it’s like I was frozen, unable to will my body to pull the rope across.

I think the breakdown of my cross-body stabilization started with my knee. I’ve been sub consciously and consciously favoring my left side for months. When I engaged my glutes for the first time, my hamstrings and adductors felt the relief they’d been wanting, but when I upped my mileage, the relief didn’t last as my stabilization breaks down when I get tired. Then it was exacerbated by my knee getting worse and ultimately being heavily favored post-injection.

I have no idea if that’s true, but it’s what I’m sticking with for now. I have some killer core exercises now that work on my stabilization, and I’m continuing my long list of rehab exercises and well as new forms of cardio to keep me sane.

The Second Half of 2018

I don’t know what I have planned. This injury has been a long process of letting go of my goals and plans for the year. The marathon was the first to go, and as we’ve gotten closer and closer to September, I know that I won’t be in shape (heck, might not even be fully training then), and that has been hard.

“All frustration in this world comes from unmet expectations.” So what’s the plan for Q3 and Q4 of 2018? *shrug emoji*

Guest Post: My Dad’s Final 100-Mile Race

I come from a running family. A number of years ago, my dad decided that marathons were “too short” and embarked on ultra marathons. Ultras are technically anything longer than a marathon, so they range from 50k (31 miles) to 100+ miles, usually on trails. In fact, they usually call races 100-milers even if the courses run a bit long. What’s an extra mile or 3 when you’re already going that far?

Last weekend was my dad’s final 100-miler as the opportunity cost of training for them has gotten too high (his words as a fellow econ nerd). It was a 103.7 mile course on a mountain trail in the George Washington National Forest in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley with over 18,000 feet of climbing. If that doesn’t sound like enough of a party, it also rained the entire week leading up to the race and during the race (as you’ll read).

Please enjoy the race recap below, written by Michael Walcott. 103 miles for his 103rd marathon/ultra marathon.

Massanutten Mountain Trail 100 (really 103.7 miles)

Executive Summary:  I finished. Placed 98th out of 128 finishers.  190 started the race which means 62 dropped. Total time was 34:25, far beyond my expected time of 28-30 hours, but given the entirety of the event, I’ll take it.

The gory details:  In Sunday school we used to sing, “The rains came down and the floods came up, the rains came down and the floods came up…..”  It should have been the theme song for this year’s MMT.

Before I describe the race, let me thank Jim Perkins for his outstanding support.  He met me at every crew accessible aid station, had the gear laid out, and did everything he could to keep me moving.  He was out there the entire 35 hours making sure I had everything I needed. I could not have done it without him.

It rained a lot in the days leading up to Saturday morning.  We went to get my race packet on Friday afternoon and the parking area was off limits due to standing water.  Given a 4 am Saturday start we intended to camp at the starting line Friday night. I checked the forecast and it was supposed to start raining in the early evening and rain solid all night and into the next morning.  I found a hotel room. It was a dump, but it was the best $100 I spent on the trip.

When the alarm went off at 2am I checked outside and it was pouring down rain.  We packed up and set off for the start. They wouldn’t let Jim park so I jumped out of the van and walked the road to the starting line and big tent.  The rain had quit and everyone was milling around waiting for the start. A few minutes before 4 a light rain started. One minute before 4 we get called out of the tent to the starting line, and at 4 we started.  So did a steady rain.

We began by running across a water-soaked field to get to the road.  Feet wet. They wouldn’t be dry again until I finished. Understand, I’m not wearing cotton socks and canvas tennis shoes.  My trail shoes drain well and my socks are a high quality merino wool that do very well in wet conditions, but it was wet feet nonetheless.

The first 4 miles were slightly uphill on a paved road that turned to high quality dirt after a mile.  There were two bridges on this road that were designed for water to run over the bridge if the creek was too high.  Both bridges had fast running water over the road. After four miles we turned on to the first trail, and I got my first look at what I was facing for the day.  They did not lie about the rocks. There were big rocks, little rocks, round rocks, flat rocks, sharp rocks, angled rocks, embedded rocks and loose rocks, every kind of rock.  Not always, there were sections pretty much clear of rocks, but those sections were full of mud and running water.

The course is a big figure 8.  About a 70 mile upper loop, clockwise, with a crossover at Gap Creek to make a smaller counterclockwise 30 mile loop back to Gap Creek.  We would ascend to the ridge line, run along it, descend to an aid station and do it again. 11 major climbs plus lots of smaller ones. It became clear the lower sections would be ridiculously wet and muddy, but the higher one got on the trail, the dryer it got and the ridge trails were in pretty good shape and fairly runnable at times with minimal rocks.

All went well early on.  The rain quit by 9 or so and it wouldn’t rain again for the remainder of the race.  It stayed cloudy and foggy almost all day Saturday which ruined the views off the ridges, but kept it pretty cool.  I had fallen pretty far back on the first climb, but now I was moving up playing leapfrog with a number of runners but eventually leaving them behind.  The only incident was a creek crossing that was raging. I misstepped and lost my balance and started getting dragged downstream only my head above water.  Fortunately I was crossing with a few others, and two grabbed me before I ended up in the Shenandoah River 20 miles downstream.

Sidebar – Here’s a story that epitomizes what I love about the ultra community.  When I was rescued from the raging creek, my right shoulder got wrenched. Once out of the creek I was rotating my arm to check the damage and Alexandre Benoit, a runner from Canada, asked if I was ok.  I had been playing leapfrog with Alexandre for a couple of hours. Earlier in the day he had done a face plant into a rock. His face was bloody and his upper lip was held together with a bandage. He offered me Biofreeze for my shoulder.  I declined, but I was struck by his kindness. He was willing to stop, remove his pack and get me, a total stranger, some Biofreeze. When I’m not running I’m cycling. Cyclists are not like runners. A fellow cyclist’s goal is to inflict pain and drop you. Ultrarunners care for one another.

Ok, back to our exciting story.  Around 30 miles the stomach decided to go south, and I got sick.  For the next 3 hours I fought the nausea and other problems, but I’m no longer eating or drinking enough.  The battle of the mind and body begins.

By mile 54 I’m 3 hours behind my target time and only 90 minutes in front of the cutoff.  I gear up for the night, and I’m not feeling good. It doesn’t get better. The next section was 10 miles, and it took me 3.5 hours.  I stopped several times and turned off my headlamp and did a 360. Nothing but pitch blackness. I didn’t know where I was, and there was no one else around.  I couldn’t even run the downhills, and my stomach was a mess. I finally get to Camp Roosevelt at 64 miles.

I had read and been told that the section from Roosevelt to Gap Creek was the wettest part of the course.  I wondered how much wetter could it get? Turns out, a lot. A runner earlier in the day told me the first 2 miles out of Roosevelt was in a creek bed.  The trail is a creek, and it would be wet. She did not lie. I’m climbing a creek with 6 inches of running water coming down. It wasn’t steep, but it was wet.  What she forgot to tell me was the wall I had to climb after the creek bed, and the nasty descent after the climb. At 1:30 AM I staggered into Gap Creek. I was beat both physically and mentally.

Perkins meets me and sort of catches me as I wobble to one side.  An aid station worker holds me up from the other side as they discuss whether I should sit.  I don’t want to sit. Then God sent Heather. I’m standing in a daze, the other two are discussing what to do with me, and Heather appears with energy that belies the time of day (1:30am) and a smile on her face she asks, “Do you want a pacer?”  Addled brain or not, I know a good deal when I see one. If a pretty, 30-something wants to pace me, there is only one correct answer, and I reply, “Yes I do.” Certain logistics are discussed (like how to get her back to her car), the deal is made. I had a pacer.

While I was still suffering physically, having Heather as pacer made huge difference in my mental state.  After a tough climb, we got to the first runnable section and like a good pacer Heather suggested we run a little.  I tell her I can’t run, but I can shuffle fast. So she said, “Let’s shuffle.” So we did. Turns out Heather is from Michigan, so am I.  Heather is an alumna of University of Michigan and a fan of the Wolverines, so am I (a fan of the Wolverines – Go Blue!). Heather has only sisters, I only have brothers, well you get the picture.  Words cannot adequately express what an important role she played in getting me to the finish. If she’s not at Gap Creek, I don’t make it. Perkins told me on the way home he thought I would quit at Gap Creek.  I looked that bad.

We get to the next aid station, and Heather asks if I want her to keep pacing.  I tell her she can take me all the way to finish if she wants, but I’m grateful for what she’s done.  She decides to keep going. We climb Bird Knob and get there at sunrise. We take a moment to appreciate the view, it was spectacular (it’s not like I was going to win).  We head for the Picnic Area aid station, the next to last one, but it’s a haul. We were on that one section for as far as we could see, and we could see pretty far down the trail, it was a muddy river.  Heather said, “They should call this the 100-mile river trail.” We stop on a downhill section to let a couple runners by. I tell Heather I don’t think I can go much farther. I’m falling asleep standing up, and I can feel my stomach is totally empty.  I’m moving on fumes. We keep thinking the aid station has to be close. I’m hallucinating. I see the fence line, a road and a picnic shelter around every corner only it’s just more woods when we get there. Even Heather is hallucinating the aid station.  Eventually, it is the aid station and not a hallucination.

Picnic Aid is the breakfast station.  The staff recognized my plight, sat me down and force-fed me pancakes, bacon and Coke.  Force-fed might be a bit strong, but they were insistent on getting some calories into me before they kicked me out.  It made the difference. With some calories and Heather’s part command, part question, “Time to shuffle?” we made the 9-mile trek (with a 4-mile nasty climb) back to Gap Creek in under 3 hours.  Heather didn’t need a ride back to her car, she ran back.

Sidebar – About 2 miles out of Picnic the trail crosses a main highway.  As we approached it, I noticed someone sitting by the trailhead. It was Perkins.  He said he thought I might want my sunglasses – I did. That’s an example of the kind of great support Jim provided all during the race.

When we hit the road leading into Gap Creek I finally knew I was going to make it.  I had 4 hours to cover less than 9 miles and over 5 miles of that was on a gravel road going downhill.  Short of breaking a bone I was going to finish. I said goodbye to Heather and started off on the last section.  I passed 8 runners coming home and even ran, not shuffled, a good bit of the last road.

So ends the rambling tale of the MMT 100.  Thanks to all for your supportive comments before and after the race.  If you ever want to try the race, let me know. I’ll gladly be your crew.

The Significance of the 2018 Boston Marathon

This year was the most excited I’ve ever been to watch the Boston Marathon. Sure, I’ve followed the updates on Twitter and would track the small handful of people I knew who were running, but ever since they announced the elite field in December (you can read my analysis of that here), I’ve been anxiously awaiting Boston Monday.

The US had the deepest field of elite women I’ve ever seen, and there was plenty of hype around breaking the 33-year drought since the last time an American woman won. The depth of the field fed the hopes of running fans everywhere as we had not one runner to pin our dreams on, but four. Shalane Flanagan, Des Linden, Jordan Hasay, and Molly Huddle all had a realistic shot at the crown. Having a “team” to count on certainly spread some of the pressure off of those individuals as well. Kara Goucher recounted that pressure in her blog.

The depth of the field certainly helped when Sunday evening Jordan Hasay withdrew from the competition due to a stress reaction in her heel. While I was certainly sad for her, it wasn’t nearly as devastating a blow as it would have been if she was the only contender.

Now, to set the scene for the race:

It was the coldest start in 30 years. 30 degrees at the start with 20 mph winds and driving rain. Normally you see women running marathons in bun huggers and crop tops, but the race director printed a second set of numbers, so everyone could keep on their jackets and discard them along the way if they warmed up. Most of them didn’t. It looked miserable.

The race started off relatively slow – 19:17 for the first 5k. Whoever was brave enough to lead was subject to the pack squeezing in behind her to try to escape the wind. At one point, the leader started zig-zagging across the road in an effort to annoy and/or shake off the drafters.

At 12 miles in, Shalane Flanagan did the unthinkable and ran off the course for a bathroom break. Someone posted that they timed it at just 13-14 seconds, so it was a quick stop, but still a crazy move. Des Linden dropped off the back of the lead pack and kept looking over her shoulder until Shalane caught her, and then together they caught up to the main pack.

This was the first of many tearful moments for me. We found out later in post-race interviews that Des told Shalane early in the race – just a few miles in – that she wasn’t feeling well and might not finish, so if Shalane needed anything to let her know. These women are teammates only in nationality and run for different clubs/sponsors. They are competitors in every sense of the word. To see the level of class and sports(wo)manship was touching.

Back to the race – apologies for the vagueness ahead but I don’t remember exactly when/who did what besides Des. At some point (I believe after halfway), one of the lead Ethiopian women took off and broke open a nice gap between herself and the field. She had 27 seconds on the chase pack which Des was leading.

Side note: announcers never know how to talk about Des Linden. The woman is a metronome who sticks to her race place regardless of the whims of the other athletes. Sometimes this makes it look like she’s falling “off the pace” when really the pack has just surged some, and she catches them later when they slow down. Her confident, charging stride while leading the chase pack (which was stringing out) was awesome to watch, and all the announcers had to say was how she seemed to be “back from the dead.” Lots of eye rolls.

5km later and we still have the Ethiopian with a 25 second lead on Des and another one with a 2 second lead on her just ahead. I am worried at this point because she only made up 2 seconds over that 5km, and there wasn’t that much of the race left (maybe 10-15k?).

Then you see Des catching second place and leaving her in the dust. She’s severely closed the gap on first. Is this really happening?

Des catches the lead runner and is in first with about 10k to go. The lead runner doesn’t respond at all, Des pulls away, and it looks like as long as she finishes, she’s got this race wrapped up.

The real crying starts now. I can’t help it. The woman who got 2nd place by 2 seconds in this race back in 2011 is dominating the field and is about to get her first Marathon Major win. The crowds are losing their minds as she makes her way right on Hereford and left on Boylston to the finish. She crosses in 2:39:54 and the first American woman to win in 33 years.

That is significant. That is inspiring and heartwarming and all sorts of other feel good adjectives. But to add to the significance:

  • American Sarah Sellars placed 2nd
  • American Rachel Hyland placed 4th
  • American Jessica Chichester placed 5th
  • American (and Georgian!) Nicole Dimercurio placed 6th
  • American Shalane Flanagan place 7th
  • American Kimi Reed placed 8th

You might notice that none of those names except Shalane were in the elite field preview. Heck, Jessica Chichester wasn’t even part of the elite field and started with the first wave of runners! The significance of the day came from the fact that the US put 7 in the top 10 including a champion and absolutely dominated the field. A lot of these women aren’t professional runners and work full time. That’s unheard of!

On a day with less than ideal racing conditions (to put it lightly), American women persevered, and it paid off. Big time.



The Curse of Mississippi

Mississippi is the worst state. Let me give you anecdotal evidence to scientifically prove my point.

Every time my team went to Mississippi in college, something bad happened.

In January 2010, we came back to Berry a few days before the semester started, so we could travel to Jackson, Mississippi for the Mississippi Blues Half Marathon. To date, this is the coldest race I’ve ever run. This is what I wore to packet pickup the day before:

It was 18 degrees at the start, and many of us pulled something during the race just from our muscles’ inability to warm up. Volunteers were furiously sweeping up the cast aside water cups on the course water stops since any remaining liquid immediately froze once it hit the ground, creating an icy patch for runners to cross. Teammates finished with their sweat frozen to their faces and had icicles in their hair. We huddled together wrapped in space blankets, happy to head back to the motel for hot showers.

Unfortunately some of the doors wouldn’t open when we got back. The rooms that were closest to the pool were the least protected from the cold temps, so the doors were frozen shut. This delayed our departure as it took maintenance almost an hour to get all of those doors open.

When we finally got on the road, we started planning activities for that evening. It was our teammate Taylor’s birthday, and Jackson back to Berry was only about 6 hours, so we had plenty of time for birthday festivities.

After some time on the road, there was some traffic on the interstate. I’m not sure how long we sat completely motionless on our Leisure Time charter bus before someone started investigating (this was pre-smartphone for me). There was a jackknifed tractor trailer a few miles ahead, and the whole interstate was shut down. With a wall of cars in front of us as well as behind us, there was nowhere to go.

We spent 3 hours sitting in the same spot. Despite the fatigue from the half marathon, knowing that we couldn’t move resulted in a fair amount of cabin fever. During those 3 hours, we fit Michael (a tall skinny runner, who would imagine we had one of those?) into the overhead baggage compartments, had a dance party, and wrapped Jacque up in toilet paper like a mummy (I decided against photos to protect the innocent).

All in all, we made it home, no one was hurt, and we were able to celebrate Taylor’s birthday the next day. This trip did make all of us a little suspicious of Mississippi, though.

The nail in the coffin for Mississippi came the next school year in the fall. We were going to a new cross country meet – the Brooks Memphis Twilight. This was exciting because it was a night race, and my aunt and uncle were living in Memphis at that time, so they could come to the race.

To get to Memphis, you have to go through Mississippi. We were in the middle of the state when the bus driver put on his hazards and pulled over to the shoulder of the interstate. Apparently some part of the roof of the bus near where his sun visor attached was broken. I to this day don’t believe it was stop-worthy, but safety first, I guess.

It quickly got very warm on the bus, so a lot of us ventured outside, just hanging out on the side of a major interstate. Thankfully it was wooded for the inevitable needs of well-hydrated runners.

After an hour or so, the bus driver let us know that another bus was on the way, and he needed to take this bus to a mechanic. We had to unload all of our stuff and watch the bus drive away (cough, fully functional, cough) and look like a group of matching homeless people.

Thankfully, our coach had the infinite wisdom to plan for an extremely early arrival, so we would have time to explore the city a little bit. Despite the unfortunate circumstances, we knew we should still make our races.

Finally, after another hour, a new bus showed up! Instead of the usual charter bus, it was a tour bus, and it had (allegedly) shuttled Jason Mraz around the night before. Happy to have a new means of transportation, we crammed into the new bus. Rather than the usual rows of seats, this bus has a few leather bench couches, so it was a tight fit for a group our sized with each person also having a duffle bag.

We made it to the race venue in just enough time to drop our stuff and get in a warmup. We cut it close for sure, no thanks to the traffic we encountered once we got into the city, but the night races were a success!


While these stories both have (eventual) happy endings, I still believe this offers definitive and objective evidence for Mississippi being the worst.



Women’s Elite Field for Boston 2018

I encountered a Twitter storm Monday afternoon as the Boston Athletic Association announced the elite field for the 2018 Boston Marathon. My (biased) opinion is that US women marathoners are the most exciting segment of distance running right now, so I wanted to take a closer look at just how stacked this field is.

Shalane Flanagan 

Fresh off her first major marathon win in New York, Flanagan decided she wasn’t quite ready to retire yet and is making a run for another major title. The Boston native has always had her eyes on a win in the hometown marathon and would certainly be the cherry on top of a successful career before retirement.

Fun fact: “Every single one of her training partners — 11 women in total — has made it to the Olympics while training with her, an extraordinary feat. Call it the Shalane Effect: You serve as a rocket booster for the careers of the women who work alongside you, while catapulting forward yourself.” Read more here.

PR: 2:21:14


Sara Hall 

Hall is also fresh off a win. With a solo effort for the vast majority of the race, Hall dominated the field at the USATF Marathon Championships earlier this month, running just a few seconds off a PR that she set five weeks prior. Coached by her husband, American Marathon Record-holder Ryan Hall, Sara is definitely coming into form for the marathon after moving up to the distance a few years ago.

PR: 2:27:21


Desi Linden

Desi holds the best finish at a past Boston Marathon when she was 2nd in 2011. Linden is one of my favorite marathoners to watch as she is a complete metronome. During the 2016 US Marathon Trials, her consistency awarded her a 2nd place finish after she didn’t chase the breakaway that Flanagan and Cragg made earlier in the race.

PR: 2:22:38


Molly Huddle

Molly is the American Record-holder in the 10k from the 2016 Olympics (which I cried while watching) where her breakout performance was redemption from her missing out on a medal at the World Championships the year prior.

The marathon is relatively new to Huddle as Boston will be her second marathon after her debut last November. She’s no stranger to success on the roads, and I’m excited to watch her make the transition into the longer distance.

PR: 2:28:13


Jordan Hasay

Jordan is the most exciting new(ish) addition to the American women marathoners. Hassay’s Boston debut last year was the fastest marathon debut of any American woman by nearly 3 minutes. She followed up on that performance with a blazing 2:20:57 at Chicago this fall, putting her at #2 on the list of American female marathoners.

From watching Hassay run the 1500 meter Olympic trials as a high schooler to competing for the dominant Oregon Ducks in college to having some injury struggles post-college, it’s satisfying to watch her find her stride again in the longer distances.

PR: 2:20:57


Serena Burla

Full disclosure, I didn’t know anything about Serena Burla except recognizing her name as an elite runner. As it turns out, she has an incredible story! She’s a cancer survivor, and a surgery in 2011 to remove the cancer also took half of her hamstring. She underwent surgery again in August after finding another malignant tumor in her leg.

PR: 2:26:53


Kellyn Taylor

Kellyn Taylor was another name that was familiar, but I had to look up some details on her. She’s a total badass – pro runner, firefighter, mom, etc. Taylor came excruciatingly close to qualifying for the Olympic team in 2016, finishing 6th at the marathon trials and then 4th in the 10,000 meters.

PR: 2:28:40


Deena Kastor

I saved the queen for last. Kastor is the American record holder in the marathon, half marathon among other accolades. She has an Olympic bronze in the marathon from 2004 and broke the Master’s marathon record by nearly a minute in 2015, running 2:27:47. She’ll be 45 at the 2018 Boston Marathon and will still be running away from much of the competition.

PR: 2:19:36


Boston 2018 – I can’t wait to watch! Could this be the first year since 1985 that an American takes home the crown?

Decide, Commit, Step Forward: How to Break Free from FOMO and Organize your Ambition

When I first started at Praxis, I learned that it is something I’ll always have to explain to people. The follow up question is usually about our participants who I like to describe as “exhaustingly inspiring.” Our community is constantly pinging with notifications about new websites, new blog posts, new projects, new group discussions, podcast, reading groups, etc. It’s overwhelming in the best sense of the word.

But that feeling of being overwhelmed can also be detrimental. It can cause analysis paralysis and make you not know where to start or spark 1 million half-baked ideas that you never put into action because you don’t want to give up on thinking of 1 million more ideas. We see this when people are afraid to commit to a single project idea because they don’t know if it’s the “right” one. You can experience, fear, anxiety, regret, and FOMO (fear of missing out) when you’re negatively overwhelmed, and I’m going to address how to overcome that.

First, I want to start with a little economics. Economics was my first love from when my dad was my econ teacher in high school and that led me to pick econ as my major in college and then to FEE (Foundation for Economic Education) for my first 5 years out of school. I sincerely think that economics is the single most useful subject to know and understand to function successfully in the world. One of the taglines we used when marketing FEE programs was “see the world more clearly” because looking at events through an economic lens gives you understanding and clarity.

One of the basics of economics is opportunity cost. This is a concept most people understand even if they don’t know the formal name for it. Opportunity cost is defined as the value of your next best alternative. Textbook examples usually include something like, “Sally can go to the movies with her friends or go to the baseball game with her family. Whichever thing she doesn’t choose is her opportunity cost.”

Easy, right? Everyone gets that you can only do one thing at a time, but the actual cost of what you’re giving up can sometimes be overestimated. Since you can only do one thing at a time, opportunity cost is only the value of your next best alternative, not the sum of all of the values of literally every other thing you could be doing. Choosing option A doesn’t mean your cost is B and C and D and E (and…etc); the cost is just B (assuming it’s your next best choice) because if you choose B, that precludes you from choosing the others as well.

I explain all of that to emphasize the importance of knowing the true cost of your decisions. Thinking in the flawed way of, “I’m losing out on every single other thing!” rather than only giving up the next best choice can cause major analysis paralysis. It can put more pressure than is needed on making the “right” choice because you believe the stakes are higher than they really are.

Acknowledge the opportunity cost of your decisions, and use that information to help you make the best choice.

Another note on decisions: everything is a choice. Even refusing to make a decision is a decision in and of itself. You won’t get the time back you spent deliberating or agonizing over a choice, so keep opportunity cost in mind when it comes to how much time you spend making a decision. Not every decision needs a well-constructed argument or research to back it up. For instance, I spent a few hours researching, comparing models, reading reviews, and even going to a store to look at the sizes/feel the weights when I was picking out a new laptop last year. It was a larger purchase and important purchase, so I wanted to make a good decision. I wouldn’t spend that amount of time on buying a new toaster or waffle maker. It’s just not worth my time!

That’s a simplified example, but as someone who is prone to getting sucked into reading Amazon reviews, it’s important to take a clarifying moment to judge the priority of a decision. I’m not trying to encourage rash decision making, but not every decision needs a pro-con list. Some things aren’t worth it. In fact, most aren’t.

Ranking the priority of your decisions is important because decision fatigue is a real thing. People who make more decisions throughout the day struggle with self-control and will power at the end of the day, more so than those who make fewer decisions. Interestingly, it’s also shown that judges make “less favorable” decisions later in the day than they do in the morning. (Something to keep in mind if you’re ever in court and able to pick the time of your appointment.) Another example is Mark Zuckerberg, who has been quoted as saying that’s why he wears jeans and a grey Tshirt every day. He doesn’t want to waste the mental capacity on deciding what to wear when he could use that capacity to further take over the world with Facebook.

That’s why I named the first part of this post decide. It’s important to know how to make a decision. And after you make it – commit to it. There are no time machines. So – when you make a decision, commit to it and only look forward. Thinking about what you “woulda coulda shoulda” done is a waste of your time, and regret is not a productive emotion.

I loved the Forward Tilt episode “Living with Integrity.” I excitedly slacked Isaac the morning it came out telling him it had so much in common with what I wanted to talk about at Praxis Weekend. My favorite (hypothetical) example is when he talks about his wife asking him to attend a social event that he doesn’t necessarily want to go to. He says the option that shows integrity isn’t so much about whether he decides to go or not but about his commitment to that decision. A lack of integrity would be agreeing to go to the party and then acting pouty and passive aggressive about being there, possibly ruining the outing for his wife. If you decide to go – go and be just as a pleasant human being as you would have if you stayed home.  You can’t keep one foot in your decision – it requires both feet.

I want to clarify this doesn’t mean you never change your mind or pivot away from an original decision or goal. You absolutely should do that in some cases. How you decide to do that involves thinking about how that new decision changes your next step. Another economic concept that’s important to understand is sunk cost. A sunk cost is one you’ve already paid – either with time or money or resources. My favorite example is all you can eat buffets.

If you go to a buffet and pay $25 at the door, you can’t get that money back no matter how much or how little you eat. Eating more to “get your money’s worth” is an illogical argument, and you should only base your decision to get another plate of food on if you think it will make you feel happier (do it!) or sick (don’t do it).

So yes, past information is helpful when making current decisions, but you base your decision on how it will affect your future – looking forward. When I was coming up with the outline for this post, I pictured it as describing life as a choose your own adventure book. At the end of each chapter, you have to pick which way to go, commit to that decision by turning to the correct page, and then step forward by starting your new chapter. Then repeat.

Continuing with that example, some chapters are longer than others. Praxis curriculum is built around 30-day PDPs (personal development projects), and you have the freedom to learn a different skill every month or spend 3, 6, etc months building on a single skill. Devoting a month to something is a great, low-risk way to test if you want to pursue it further. If you dedicate a month to learning guitar and find that music isn’t your thing, it’s not a big deal! You learned something about yourself and can adjust accordingly for your future goals and learning.

It’s up to you to determine which activities and goals to pursue further and which to give up through honest self-assessment. Grinding through something you don’t always like or doesn’t “feel” fulfilling is important if it moves you toward bigger goals, but grinding for the sake of grinding is not and is a waste of your time.

Now that we’ve discussed the proper framework for good decision making, here are my tips for “organizing your ambition.” I will use my favorite example from my own life – running.

  1. Pick a goal

Here I’m talking about your long-term goals, not something you want to accomplish in 30 days. This should be something difficult that you might spend years of your life inching toward. SMART goals are important, so make sure you strike a balance between challenging and realistic. For instance, my goal doesn’t have to do with running at the Olympic level because that is hilariously unrealistic.

But my goal is challenging. It’s to break 18 minutes for 5k. I’ve been working on getting faster technically since I was 12 but seriously toward this goal since I was 19 or 20. I’d like to accomplish it before I have kids, so I have roughly a 10-year deadline.

  1. Document your progress

This is so important in your professional career! If you have a portfolio of projects that demonstrate the value you can create, you immediately set yourself apart from a crowd. You won’t be in the stack of 1,000 other resumes, and you’ll have credibility with an interviewer. Think of the difference between saying, “I build websites and proficient in X coding languages” and saying that plus having examples of the websites and client testimonials.

Having documentation also allows you to see the progress you make toward your goal. I’ve kept an online running log since 2007, so I have over 10 years of data to look back on. The documentation is also helpful for when I need an expert’s advice, which leads to my next point.

  1. Get a coach

Remember decision fatigue from earlier? It will be much more taxing both mentally and physically if you’re having to teach yourself the basics AND research the best resources AND try to put it all into practice AND get feedback on how you’re doing.

I “coached” myself for about a year out of college. I use the word coached very loosely because I had no idea what I was doing. I mainly looked at my running log from college and would randomly pick workouts and do them. It was hard to know what paces to aim for, and I can remember the pressure of trying to decide what I was going to do the next morning before I went to bed.

I finally asked one of my teammates from college who was coaching if he would take me on, and he did. Not only did my decision fatigue decrease, but there’s also something really helpful about having someone else challenge you and believe in you. You get an extra bump from the external motivation because your coach isn’t going to purposely set you up to fail. If you have a hard workout assigned, you get the boost of confidence from knowing, “He thinks I can do this.”

Sometimes you need the kick in the butt form of external motivation as well. This story isn’t my own, it’s from a runner friend who posted it on Facebook. She went to see a PT who asked her if she had been doing her exercises and stretches and foam rolling. Her answer was some form of “not as much as I should.” His answer sticks with me today.

“Oh I’m sorry. I thought you wanted to be fast.”

It sounds really harsh, but it has motivated me countless times since I heard it. You see, running is the easy part of training. The hard parts of training are lifting weights, stretching, eating right, turning off Netflix to get 8+ hours of sleep, etc. If I’m ever lacking motivation, I sassily say to myself, “Oh, sorry, I thought you wanted to run under 18,” and that helps get me going.

Find a coach. Find someone (or a handful of people) who will be fitness trainers for your goals and career and who will give you the kick in the butt when you need it and who will celebrate with you when you meet your goal.

  1. Be unapologetic about your goals.

I love this tweet. I have no idea who this guy is, but this tweet stood out enough in my memory for me to scroll through 2 years of my twitter page to find it. I ended up Googling him and found out he’s a baseball player, so the athlete analogies continue.

If you’re a highly-motivated doer, you already know you’re weird. People don’t always understand why you’re so driven or how you get so much done. Sometimes this inability to understand comes out as their own insecurity, so they make fun of you. To that I say, SHAKE OFF THE HATERS. Recognize their negative attention for what it really is – their defensiveness and insecurity about pursuing mediocrity.

I’m definitely not saying to go around having an elitist attitude toward everyone. Sometimes you just have to remind yourself that you’re pursing your goal for YOU and because YOU’RE interested in it. It doesn’t matter what other people think.

  1. Don’t be a martyr.

Another way to be unapologetic about your goals is the more literal sense – don’t apologize. And definitely don’t be a martyr. I’ve been more careful about my language ever since someone pointed out to me that I say “I have to run” rather than “I’m going to run.” There’s a huge difference!

“Having” to do something implies an obligation that wasn’t made by you and is something out of your control. Using that language also allows you to play the martyr card. Instead of being unapologetic and unashamed of your goal, you treat it like a burden.

“Oh sorry – I can’t stay out. I have to get up at 6am to run.”

What you’re really saying is, “please give me sympathy for this choice that is 100% mine and I normally don’t complain about.”

Don’t be that person.

  1. Get a community

You have likely heard that you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with and that your external environment shapes you. If you want to achieve a goal, especially a tough goal, you need to surround yourself with positive people who believe you can do it and, most importantly, who have goals of their own.

To use a phrase from the Bible, don’t be around those who are stumbling blocks to you, those who impede your progress or sabotage your work.

This is what is so great about the Praxis Community and why its members are “exhaustingly inspiring.” It is a group of 200+ people who are all talented and creating/doing/learning every day. No, they aren’t all supernatural geniuses who never succumb to resistance or doubt themselves, but they are definitely a biased sample size of humanity.

Find your tribe.

  1. There is no Secret

This, like opportunity cost, is something that people often say they believe but don’t live like they believe it. I love illustrating this through a quote from the book Once a Runner. The backstory is that there’s an Olympic gold medalist in the 5000 who lives in town. Various people join his training group, but only on rare occasion does anyone stick with it for longer than a few weeks. They’re drawn to him because they want to know The Secret, as if they can pick up on it just from being around him.

What was the secret, they wanted to know; in a thousand different ways they wanted to know The Secret. And not one of them was prepared, truly prepared to believe that it had not so much to do with chemicals and zippy mental tricks as with that most unprofound and sometimes heart-rending process of removing, molecule by molecule, the very tough rubber that comprised the bottoms of his training shoes. The Trial of Miles; Miles of Trials.

The secret is there is no secret. There’s no magic pill to make you smarter, more athletic, or better looking. There’s no secret subject line that will make your video go viral. It’s about hard work. It’s about grinding. It’s about your commitment being so strong that you can’t be deterred by distractions or haters. It’s about aligning your incentives, your habits, and your schedule around your work so that a weird day or a lack of motivation is just a blip on the radar rather than a tidal wave that throws you off balance. It’s about doing all of the behind the scenes work that you don’t get any glory for.

It’s about doing at least one small thing to work toward your goal

You’ve probably seen this picture of success before. Pursuing your goals might be relatively straightforward, or it might be a twisty-turny choose your own adventure novel. The important part is that you trust the decisions you make enough to commit to them and keep stepping forward.

Why I Keep Training

Running – or training to be precise – can sometimes feel like an unbalanced or unfair relationship. You do your work every day, putting your time and effort and sweat into making your relationship with running better, and then race day comes, and running doesn’t seem to hold up its end of the deal. If you were dating someone and constantly worked on your relationship and did nice things for them, and they didn’t reciprocate, you would probably dump them. So why do I keep training?

I briefly pondered that today. It was a level and logical question – not an emotional one as I’ve been before. I wasn’t upset at myself for wondering, just thought about it as I had an off day today. I rarely take weekdays off, but I finished up my track season last night and am feeling a little beat up from it. Plus, I haven’t had an extended break besides my usual down weeks once a month since January, so this is instrumental in me making it through all of 2017 healthy.

Back to the question of why I keep at it. I’ve thought before that I could back way off on training and still be semi-competitive. I could probably run 20 minute 5ks and maybe bust out a 19:30 on a good day or a fast course. Depending on the level of competition, I could win some age group awards or maybe even the whole female division. I could spend less time on training, not be as tired, and still scratch that running itch.

But I want more.

I don’t want college to be my peak. I don’t want to just PR in the 5k, I want to take a whopping 24 seconds off and one day break 18 minutes. I want to PR in every event from the 400 to the marathon. And all of that takes a lot of work. Until I stop wanting more, it’ll be worth it to inch ever closer to those goals.

I realized with a smile today that these thoughts closely parallel one of my favorite sections of Once a Runner which is the best book written about competitive distance running. The backstory starts with the main character Cassidy (an elite miler) explaining to his girlfriend Andrea how track is different from other sports since the comparisons across time aren’t subjective.

“In track it’s all there in black and white. Lot of people can’t take that kind of pressure; the ego withers in the face of the evidence. We all carry our little credentials around with us; that’s why the numbers are so important to us, why we’re always talking about them.

“…the point is that we know not only whether we are good, bad, or mediocre, but whether we’re first, third, or a hundred and ninety seventh at any given point…assuming we make the lists. That’s right. Sometimes it is possible, despite your best efforts and a hundred miles a week to not even exist. That, my dear, breaks my heart.”

Disclaimer: I am and never was in the same ballpark as Cassidy (a fictional runner but still). I would be one of those people who didn’t make the lists. I describe myself best as a serious runner and/or a competitive runner. Running is a high priority for me, and I typically race around 75% of age graded results, so that’s good enough for me to say competitive. For me, not being at an elite level doesn’t change the fact that I am training toward goals – the same way someone who is trying to run a whole 5k without walking is.

“But you can beat most of the people around, we know that, right? Isn’t that good, isn’t that what you want?”

Here Andrea echos that voice in my head that sometimes tries to convince me that I don’t need to run 50+ miles a week or lift weights or foam roll. If I can do decently well in local road races, isn’t that enough? For people like Cassidy and me, it’s not. His response gets me amped up every time I read it, and typing it tonight was no exception.

“It’s a simple choice: We can all be good boys and wear our letter sweaters around and get our little degrees and find some nice girl to settle, you know, down with…”

“Or what? What is the alternative?

Andrea doesn’t know what’s coming next.

“Or we can blaze! Become legends in our own time, strike fear in the heart of mediocre talent everywhere! We can scald dogs, put records out of reach! Make the stands gasp as we blow into an unearthly kick from three hundred yards out! We can become God’s own messengers delivering the dreaded scrolls! We can race dark Satan himself till he wheezes fiery cinders down the back straightaway! They’ll speak our names in hushed tones, ‘Those guys are animals’ they’ll say! We can lay it on the line, bust a gut, show them a clean pair of heels. We can sprint the turn on a spring breeze and feel the winter leave our feet! We can, by God, let our demons loose and just wail on!”

So that’s why I keep training. I have goals that demand more than mediocrity of me, and I have enough fire in me to put my head down and grit my way through a final kick or another interval rep around the track. Finish times might be black and white, but records are meant to be broken, so while I am in this stage of life – settled, few responsibilities (aka no kiddos), and healthy – I’m going to keep chasing them.